Staying Put: Building Sustainable Habits/a New Life/a Routine

List of post in this series

We are now at the final post about why I’ve chosen to renew the lease for my house here in Mérida. Refer to the link above for the previous posts. I can’t believe how long it took to get here, but I finally realised that I was never going to reach the perfect moment to write it. I also got my first donations for the Fundrazr, so this is the first post sponsored by that (thank you, if you’re reading this!), and there are 17 more coming at this time! If we reach our goal, I am going to have to post once a week for the next fifteen years!

So, here goes, for how life stands at this moment.

One thing that I observe in fairly settled people that is more and more obvious as I get older is that they have strong routines, habits, and preferences. I’ve moved around so much in my adulthood and lived in so many different locations and situations that I don’t have many ingrained routines, habits, or preferences. I’m not fixated on a particular diet or shopping at certain stores or exercising at a set time each day. This is both a blessing (makes me more flexible) and a curse (easier to fall into bad habits than good ones).

I’ve known for years that I tend to settle into a routine within three to six months of being somewhere and that I then take on increasingly bad and lazy habits — I don’t eat as well, I stop moving, and my house becomes a disaster zone. So a regular reboot and change of life was actually quite healthy for me. But it also wasn’t necessarily sustainable — I’m not really convinced that I could wander forever without some sort of anchor. So after a solid two decades of wandering from life to life, I’m rather ready to find a way to live that is sustainable to me, that promotes better health, and that just generally lets me be my best self regardless of where I am. Staying put in the same house would let me accomplish that goal.

I made some promises to myself when I moved into this house. Some of them included:

-I was going to maintain the house to a higher standard than I’d held my housekeeping to before;
-I was going to take advantage of being centrally located and walk as much as possible;
-I was going to get my finances in order to a point where I could be debt-free again in a few years;
-I was going to get myself a hobby or two that would get me away from the computer;
-I was going to start cooking from scratch again and explore new recipes;
-I was going to attend to some health and self-care issues.

By the end of the first year in the house, I was pretty much failing miserably at all but the finances part of the list of promises. And that was fine. I knew that I was building a life from scratch and that it would take time to find my footing. Moving back into “normal” society is difficult. I’ve had a decade out of the world with very long stretches where I’ve not had any real social connections, so building friendships here has been a challenge. Travelling as long as I did without meaningful internet access means that I am a full decade behind on cultural and world events. It truly feels like the world moved ahead and I stayed behind in 2008. Staying put is giving me a chance to catch up a bit, even if catching up often just means very long Netflix marathons. There’s no concerns there — I have a treadmill in the living room so I get plenty of exercise while I’m watching TV. 🙂

So, how am I doing at nearly two and a half years in this house?

-I found a cleaning routine that meant that for the first time in my life, my home was nearly always company-ready, a huge milestone for me. Now, I seem to have finally found a house cleaner I can see working out long-term. It’s not worth my time to spend a day cleaning at the rates you can pay a cleaner here. I’m giving someone meaningful regular employment and I don’t have to worry about the dusting!

-I don’t walk nearly as much as I thought I would. Each year is getting hotter and hotter and the window of time when I can walk comfortably gets smaller, so I can’t get into a habit of doing it regularly. I also don’t use buses as much as I would have liked because bus service in Mérida is horrible. And I don’t drive much because the traffic here gets thicker by the month. So I get my exercise from the treadmill in my living room, a weight routine, and yoga videos, and I enjoy being chauffeured in an air-conditioned Uber. 🙂

-Having spent 2019 on continuing my proofreading education, 2020 is off to a good start of earning more income. I’ve definitely increased my standard of living and am now aspiring to a more comfortable future than I ever let myself dream of in Canada. Living in a modern and affordable city with all the conveniences that comes with that has spoiled me for life.

-I have two outside the house regular hobbies now! I bowl on average one time per week and I also have taken up painting lessons. I’ve dreamed for years of taking up painting again and I’ve found the perfect setup — a studio a very inexpensive Uber ride away where my fees include all materials. Not only am I enjoying trying all sorts of new subject matter I’ve never painted before, I’ve discovered that I’m actually talented!

-I still go through waves of ordering out a lot versus cooking from scratch, depending on my schedule, but cooking from scratch is so much easier now that I’ve settled on the grocery store that works best for me and which delivers (Superama)! Instead of spending hours a week running errands and getting groceries from different locations, I now order 95% of my groceries online. A lot of the time saved is reinvested into cooking from scratch. I follow a few Mexican cooking shows on YouTube, so I’m getting inspired by recipes for which I know I can find the ingredients easily.

I really enjoy going for breakfast at my neighbourhood market. These are salbutes de pavo, a corn tortilla fried until puffy, topped with seasoned shredded turkey and vegetables, and served with a very hot (but tasty) habanero sauce.

-Finally, I’m going through my health and self-care checklist. Now that Mexico has revamped their healthcare system and you don’t have to sign up for the free “safety net” programme if you are a resident or citizen, I’m not in a hurry to get private healthcare as I’m sure anything I can get free here can’t possibly be worse than my experiences in Canada. So I’m focused on putting my healthcare budget towards my teeth and am now six weeks into have braces! They’re hell, but I’m already seeing progress, so it’ll be worth it. More than one dentist has reminded me over the years that braces don’t just solve a cosmetic issue, but also issues with teeth wear.

I have a year left before I have to decide if I’m going to want to remain in this house beyond October of 2021. I have to be careful that I don’t get so entrenched that I make a decision to stay just because I’m so comfortable here. It’s really nice to really get to know a place and become a regular, but

This locksmith remembered me from the time that he rescued my keys after I’d locked them in my truck and cracked a joke about it. You don’t get that kind of service in places you just pass through.

while I might be comfortable, I’m not necessarily fulfilled by my current location. Seeing how much Mérida has grown in the last three years makes me hesitant to commit to putting roots down here. So I really need to step up my explorations of the Yucatán to see if there’s somewhere else that I could have much of the conveniences I enjoy here but without all the traffic and urban heat islands!

So I need to start making more of an effort to go exploring I had guests in February, so we rented a car and did just that.

We saw Izamal, the Yellow City.

Then, we drove to cenote X’Canche, near the ruins of Ek Balam. We were not ready for the staircase from hell leading down to the water, but the water itself was clean and warm. What an afternoon!

The next day, I took my guests to the sleepy beach community of Sisal. Like me, they were put off by dirty and commercial Progreso, so I thought Sisal would be more to their liking. I was right — they told me I could go home when I wanted and they’d find their way back by public transportation!

Sisal central square

I got some work done in the shade!

I love how secure Yucatán is and that I can just go exploring. There are so many lovely small towns here that I’m sure that I’ll find the one that is a right fit. But I had such a horrible experience with the car rental that I’m loathe to go that route again. So I’m dreaming of being able to buy a small car that gets better gas mileage than does my truck!

So that’s where things are today — I’m busy working, building relationships, exploring, and just enjoying my house (and my dog!). I’m heading off to Oaxaca City on March 11th, so you can look forward to a series of posts about that!

Do You Really Want Me to Post More?

Over the past few years, I’ve gotten a lot of messages of late from folks claiming they miss me, wish I blogged more, etc. Well, I promised one detailed post with pictures a week for an indeterminate amount of time for every $5 donated to this campaign (more details). To my amazement, the response was immediate and generous. As of March 28th, I owe you all 175 posts, out of 213! So needless to say, I’ll be posting much more regularly than once a week or we’ll be here for years! Thank you so much to everyone who has contributed so far. The deadline for meeting the goal has passed, but we are leaving the Fundrazr open as the family still needs help since only one quarter of the money was raised in time.